How to Improve Speech after a Stroke?

In adults, stroke is one of the common health conditions that can cause speech problem or even language deficit. How long for speech returns after suffering stroke can vary from patient to patient. While some can get it within few months or even few weeks, others can take several years or even never regain it. But there are plenty of options to improve the problem, let’s explore more!

Can speech be regained after a stroke?

As noted before, the prognosis can vary (see this helpful section for more detailed information about this issue), but one thing you need to remember that there is always a chance to improve the problem!

In a team of recovery for stroke, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is often involved to help patients regain their speech and language skills.

A SLP can help a survivor relearn language skills such as speaking, reading, or even writing. If patient has problem with swallowing, this heath professional also can help plan the comprehensive strategies to improve the ability of patient in swallowing.

image_illustration63Aphasia and dysarthria are the major speech and language problems associated with a stroke attack.

Aphasia is difficulty with language. People with this problem can lose the ability to speak the words that they want to say. It can impair the way on how you to organize your thought, find the right words of what you thinking, and produce words what you want to say.

Dysarthria also can affect the speech, but it may be relatively less complex than aphasia. People with dysarthria may understand what they want to say. But the words that they say is often not clear because the muscles that they use to speak are affected after stroke. If the hand /fingers that they get used for writing are normal, they can express what they want to say through writing.

How to improve the problem?

In several cases, speech can return suddenly on its own. It usually occurs for mini stroke (medically called as TIA or transient ischemic stroke).

TIA can be a warning sign of impending true stroke, and therefore must be concerned seriously. Many people who experience TIA eventually develop a true stroke latter in their life, according to the American Stroke Association!

Start rehabilitation!

The goal of the comprehensive health care plan after a stroke is to help regain skills lost, including to regain speech. Physical therapy is usually the primary plan because it is needed to help patient re-learn how to perform some basic tasks for self-care.

Other therapies can include speech therapy that involves a speech-language pathologist, as noted before. 

The following are a table of the common health professional involved in a rehabilitation team for stroke recovery (source; the National Stroke Association).

Rehabilitation_team_for_stroke_table

Work with a speech therapist!

When it comes to improving speech, speech-language pathologist can play a key role in helping a stroke survivor.

This health professional knows completely about the best options you should follow and learn to get the significant improvement for your speech after stroke.

How does a SLP help you?

SLP can make treatment plan to regain specific skills lost. For instance, if you have problem with receptive or/and expressive language skills but without cognitive skill lost, the following strategies may help:

  1. You may be asked to take a structured discussion. During this session, your will learn how to improve initiation of conversation. These include repairing of conversational breakdowns and finding other ideas or methods that can work more effectively to improve your speech.
  2. Your SLP will ask you to participate and join into a group session to explore the skills of your conversation with other survivors.
  3. Then the most effective way to regain speech is by practicing it in real life. For instances, you are asked to answer the phone or maybe ordering a meal with ‘simple sentence’ in a restaurant. When practicing these activities, you can be accompanied by your SLP or family.

If you also have cognitive skill lost, the strategies can include:

  1. Using some helpful checklists to help improve your memory.
  2. To help easily plan tasks, your SLP can use an organizer to cope with this issue.
  3. To keep track of what happen every day, a memory log can be used.
  4. During therapy in improving your cognitive skills, you will also learn how to increase your awareness. This is important for your self-monitoring either at home, in the hospital, or community.

If you have dysarthria, your SLP can teach how to exercise the muscles that you use to speak so thus they will back to work normally. The exercises for dysarthria can be done in therapy session, but you have to practice it more often either in the hospital or at home.

Follow the treatment plan consistently!

The treatment plant for stroke recovery is not 1 week or 1 month. It can take a long time, depending on the severity of damage that affects the brain. You need to stick with it consistently!

Speech therapy doesn’t work alone. Other factors that can affect the prognosis of your stroke also should be concerned carefully. 

These can include your diet, stress management, regular & comprehensive exercise, etc. Follow the instructions from your healthcare provider properly and consistently!

Intense therapy can help regain the speech faster!

Another more effective option to get back the skill of your conversation faster is by practicing a short term of intensive therapy for speech, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 2005.

The study showed that stroke survivors with difficulty in speaking or/and understanding speech got more improvement after taking short but intensive cycles /rounds of speech.